By: Stephen Downer
September 24, 2012
Tier 1 auto industry supplier Woco Group appears likely to build a second manufacturing plant in Mexico as it aims to keep pace with the rapidly expanding Mexican automotive industry.
A spokeswoman for the family-owned German company, whose customers in Mexico include Volkswagen AG, BMW AG and Ford Motor Co., said in an interview that a decision on the plant’s location will be made within 18 months.
In late August, Woco of Bad Soden-Salmünster, Germany, announced a $12 million expansion of its Querétaro, Mexico, facility, which is located 140 miles northwest of Mexico City. The plant opened in 2007 and is operated by Woco Tech de México SA de CV.
An additional $18 million will be invested in machinery and auxiliary equipment for the plant during the next four years, said Samuel Ramos Otero, director of Woco operations in the North American Free Trade Agreement zone, in a news release.
Querétaro is expected to generate sales of about $65 million by 2016, accounting for 15 percent of Woco Group’s global sales, Ramos Otero said.
“We have invested heavily in technology and quality systems, with which we are currently in a position that allows us to face any challenge that the automotive industry in NAFTA may present.”
The $12 million is being used to increase the size of the factory from 64,600 square feet to 107,600 square feet and to purchase new injection molding equipment.
The Woco spokeswoman said about $2 million is being invested in several new presses, one with a clamping force of 1,000 tons, another of 500 tons and one or two of 200 tons. The machines are scheduled to be installed over the next few months.
The company’s favorite suppliers of injection molding machines are KraussMaffei Technologies GmbH and Arburg GmbH + Co KG. Already installed in Querétaro are presses ranging in clamping force from 70-500 tons. They include one 70-ton press, four of 100 tons, two of 130 tons, three of 200 tons and two each of 400 and 500 tons.
Plastic injection molding and the assembly of plastic parts represent 50-60 percent of all activities at the plant, which employs 300, about 210 of them in manufacturing, the spokeswoman said. Ramos Otero said he expects Woco to double the number of employees there within several years.
Items produced include cylinder-head covers, air-intake and channeling components, and actuators.
On its website, Woco — which started manufacturing operations in Mexico in Querétaro, in 1993 — lists 18 vehicle makers and 29 suppliers among its customers.